It seems logical that roads would be safer since the pandemic because many people are off the roads. Many employers are switching to work-at-home arrangements and governments have been ordering lockdowns for public health. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is more complicated than that.
The agency conducted a study and found that since April, the fatality rate has been climbing, which is a change from previous months. Despite the decrease in traffic, driving behaviors are becoming riskier. For example, of those still on the road:
- Driving speeds are up, including excessive speeds
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is more common, including spikes in opioid and marijuana users behind the wheel
- More people are not using seat belts
Reuters reported that in April this year as compared with April a year ago, the ratio of accidents with fatalities to all crashes went up 167% in New York City, 65% in Boston and 292% in Chicago. The National Safety Council said that the roads during COVID-19 have resulted in an “apparent open season on reckless driving.”
Takeaways for safe drivers
While people still making the commute to Philadelphia, Reading, King of Prussia, West Chester or Allentown along Route 422, I-76, the PA Turnpike, Route 202 or Route 100 may feel more relaxed with the reduction in numbers of vehicles, beware of those that see the open roads as opportunity to speed or otherwise relax safe driving practices and compliance with traffic laws. Negligent, distracted, reckless and aggressive driving is illegal.
In the case of an accident because of another person’s negligent or unlawful driving, that party (and their insurer) is liable for resulting injuries and property damage. Potential legal remedies may include a comprehensive negotiated settlement or a lawsuit if necessary. If the at-fault driver was violating safety laws at the time of the crash, that behavior will be important evidence in the negotiations or in trial.
Keep your guard up while driving during this public health crisis. And if you or a loved one are unfortunate enough to be injured as the result of an accident, contact us immediately for assistance with your insurance claims. It is just as risky to deal with insurance companies on your own – don’t be victimized twice.